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Tuesday, November 02, 2004

As you can see, I never did return to blogging the campaign after March 3, when Kerry essentially locked up the nomination. Now, it's Election Day, and I have no idea who is going to win. I thought that either Bush or Kerry would be winning right now, but they're going into election day tied. Elections this close are rare in modern American politics, and two close elections in a row are rarer still. In fact, I can't think of a recent example of two too-close-to-call elections in a row. The elections of 1960, 1968, and 1976 were pretty close in the popular vote, but they were all preceded and followed by landslides. This year, there are hopeful words on both sides suggesting that their candidate might win by a larger margin than the polls show, but I would be surprised by a popular vote difference of more than 3 points.

This has been a dirty campaign, with the Swift Boat Veterans ads as the lowest point. When everything is over and a winner is declared, I doubt that peace between the Bush and Kerry factions of the country will come easily. Even if the election ends with a clear victory for one candidate, it's unlikely that the country will be united. After all, even though Clinton won by sizable margins in 1992 and 1996, the Republican effort to destroy him was relentless. A President Kerry would be opposed just as bitterly as Clinton, if not more, and a re-elected President Bush would not suddenly win the hearts of the half of the country that wanted him out of office. No matter what happens, we're in for a rough four years.

It might be slightly foolish of me to make a prediction, given the uncertainty of this election. Not even the "experts" and politics junkies agree on the result, so there's no reason for me to expect to have any special insight. But I'll make a guess anyway: I think that several factors favor a victory for Kerry. I think that his supporters are more motivated than Bush's, even though both sides are more motivated than in many previous elections. Early voting and new registrations in swing states seem to favor Kerry as well. If the conventional wisdom on undecided voters is correct (i.e. that they break for the challenger), then the tie in the polls will translate into a lead for Kerry. Finally, it seems like the momentum is in Kerry's favor, with small surges in many swing states and in the nationwide tracking polls. Nothing I'm saying here is earthshattering, and the factors I'm mentioning have been analyzed, refuted, and defended in far more detail on other sites than I could summarize here. I certainly would not stake any significant amount of money on this prediction. The Democratic turnout could be less than expected, or the Republican turnout greater, or the undecideds could break more for Bush than expected, or the voting and registration figures could be misleading, or the most recent polls could be completely off. Furthermore, faulty voting equipment, voter intimidation, and other dirty tricks could nullify or shift just enough votes to alter the election results, and the extent of this sort of thing is difficult to predict in advance. So my prediction could easily be proven wrong on Election Night (or later, if there are recounts or lawsuits).

I've noticed that the title of my blog somehow got cut off when I made a small modification to the template. I'm not sure what the issue is with that, because the title still appears in the template HTML. In any case, I'm probably not going to bother to track down the glitch. If you're reading this, you probably know that this is (was) the Campaign 2004 News Blog (perhaps more appropriately titled the Primary 2004 News Blog). This might be my last post, depending on whether I feel like I have anything to add on Election Night. Like most of you, I'll be glued to the television no matter what.

--Posted at 1:53 AM |
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